18 November, 2013
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to travel back in time and visit one of the last remaining Soviet diesel submarines still afloat. Docked just off of Naberezhnaya Leytenanta Shmidtaon (набережная лейтенанта шмидта) on Vasilyevsky Island (Васильевский остров), the S-189 sub is fully restored and now open to the public, allowing visitors to see just what life was like aboard one of these vessels.
Built in 1954 at St. Petersburg ‘s Baltic factory, the submarine was one of 215 such subs of the “Whiskey” class built, making it one of the most mass produced submarines ever. Its primary role was for combat against enemy ships, drifting mines and also reconnaissance. The S-189 in particular served from 1954 till 1990, when it eventually sank in the Kronstadt harbor. It was rescued in 2005 by a Russian businessman who restored it and turned it into the museum that it is today.
After descending down the very steep “stairs” into the sub, it was immediately surprising to see how cramped the quarters really were on these submarines. Everywhere you look, there are pipes, valve and gauges, meaning you have to watch your head at all times. You have to be especially careful going through the hatches between compartments, which feel more like tunnels at times. However, you are allowed to explore and touch everything you want and even ask questions to the veterans aboard the boat.
The Museum is open: Wednesday to Sunday, 11 am to 7 pm, with last admission at 6 pm. Its closed: Mondays and Tuesdays and admission is: Adult: RUB 300.00. Student: RUB 200.00. Children: RUB 100.00. If you are interested in naval history, or just in the neighborhood, it is definitely worth a visit.